A massive supervolcano sits under the surface of one of America's most famed parks, and its eruption will be catastrophic.
As we reported recently, researchers have just published a new paper that attempts to better understand the supervolcano that lurks beneath Yellowstone National Park. And it is a stark reminder of the catastrophe that will almost certainly strike the United States at some point in the future, although the big question is “when.”
Scientists from the University of Oregon studied the tremendous magma chamber that sits under Yellowstone, fueling the geysers and hot springs the park is known for. This supervolcano is 44 miles across and would be a thousand times more powerful than the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, and it is about due to blow again.
Fortunately, because of the tremendous amount of time between such cataclysmic eruptions, “soon” is most likely thousands of years away, so we’re unlikely to witness such a apocalyptic event in our lifetimes. But the truth is scientists don’t know much about this supervolcano at Yellowstone and therefore can’t say for sure it is in the distant future, hence the need for further study.
But when it does blow, the result will be incredibly bad if humanity is still living here in the United States.
The Yellowstone Caldera was formed during the last of three supereruptions that happened over 2.1 million years, the first happening 2.1 million years ago, the second 1.3 million years ago, and most recent eruption 630,000 years ago. That means there is an average of 700,000 years between eruptions, so we are not far from the next, which could come earlier or later than that.
“The new research, for now, does not help to predict the timing of future eruptions,” reads a university statement. “Instead, it provides a never-before-seen look that helps explain the structure of the magmatic plumbing system that fuels these eruptions, Colón said. It shows where the eruptible magma originates and accumulates, which could help with prediction efforts further down the line.”